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The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America
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The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  84 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
What is lost when the best and the brightest are corralled into corporate America, in the debut of a searing, rousing social critic

In this provocative, witty, and revealing polemic, Daniel Brook argues that the exploding income gap—a product of the conservative ascendance—is systematically dismantling the American dream, as debt-laden, well-educated young people are torn b
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Times Books
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Sep 14, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I thought this book did a solid job explaining the right wing's war against the middle class over the last few decades, and the left wing's eventual acquiescence. The author presented a good overview of Goldwater & Reagan's philosophies and economic policies that have so weakened the middle and working classes today. If you work hard and save your money, but still wonder why it is so difficult to achieve financial security today, read this book. It smartly lays out why basics like m ...more
Liz Smith
Aug 30, 2007 Liz Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for all younger people trying to understand the economic impacts of our current governmental policy. Hopefully, the more people that read it, the greater the possibility of change.
Jul 17, 2007 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: disillusioned self-pitying yuppies
Yeah. It stinks that we have to work well-paying yet unsatisfying jobs to get through life. It stinks that it's a never-ending cycle of cost of living increases and sell outs.

It also stinks that this book presents itself as being so "liberal" but can't get past the prostitution metaphors, and so I can't get past that inherrent misogyny. And it really really stinks that, in a total insult to readers' intelligence, the conclusion of this book falls back on the old "Jefferson didn't believe in sla
Aug 30, 2007 Dara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My generation
Shelves: nonfiction
This book made me sit up and take notice of the trend that has taken hold of our generation to grasp for high-paying, misery (and often guilt)-inducing jobs just in order to get by. What used to be a middle class income no longer provides a middle class lifestyle today -- at least not in New York City or any other buzzing metropolis. With education and housing costs at ever increasing prices it's scary to think of how our generation will even be able to afford to have children at all.
Aug 31, 2007 Izzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why has the pay gap between a teacher and a corporate lawyer grown so enormous since the 1970s? More importantly, why do we all seem to think that's OK? Brooks looks at the phenomenon of well-educated young adults "selling out" -- not because they're greedy, but because it's literally impossible to live and raise a family doing work that benefits the community. He's a funny, fluid writer, and he will make you really mad.
May 21, 2009 Johanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to wait a while before adding my thought on this book... sort of let things percolate and filter (how about that coffee metaphor!)
The author paints a compelling and complete picture of what has happened and the loss of the democratic vision to "bring the bottom up and hold the top down." Deliberately implemented right wing conservative policies have concentrated wealth at the very top and often put a large section of the (former) middle class out of price range for attaining a modest Am
Aug 22, 2007 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Once you get over the elitism in this book, there are some valuable questions to ask. What is freedom? Is freedom the ability to choose your own doctor or health insurance plan? Or is freedom having health insurance so you do not have worry about going to back to school, quiting a job you hate, and so on? Is freedom coming out of school so debt laden that your choices of employment are effectively limited to who pays the most? Or, do not even make the choice because your employment goal no longe ...more
Oct 29, 2007 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Social Inequality and Social Change
This book was so-so for me. On one hand, it was a good analysis of problems facing 20 and 30 somethings, and a good exploration of why we are so into making money (a common criticism from other generations). The author discusses how the cost of education, housing, medical care, and other necessities have squeezed those who would otherwise go into public service, creative, and non profit careers, and how many "sell out" to take jobs they don't believe in. All true. Where he lost me a little was t ...more
Nov 26, 2007 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: money
Not a perfect book, but I'm giving it five stars for laying out in detail what I always suspected from talking to my friends who mostly fit the descriptions here. Both partners work, and they work really long hours at jobs that they don't really feel very proud of. They do it b/c they need the money. And for the most part these aren't high-spending, consumption-addicted people.

This book is about people who want to use their lives' work to do good and benefit society, but to do that means you wil
Oct 28, 2007 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially parents of twenty-somethings
I liked it, though I didn't learn much that I don't already know. The main attraction is that it is about people I know and am related to - how the huge and growing income gap is ruining the lives of the haves as well as the have-nots.

The author's observations about the lives of the Trader Joes/Ikea/Target crowd, of which I am an aging member, are so true. As well the points about those high-paying jobs that people are selling out for really being as boring and unsatisfying as the lousy-paying
A snarky account of why it is that all of us liberal-arts type majors are broke and all seriousness though, this was a pretty interesting read of why it is that jobs in corporate America pay so much more than jobs in non-profits, teaching, government, etc -- before Reaganomics, the incredible income gaps that we're familiar with today between these professions didn't exist. It also looks at other economic factors -- such as rising proportions of student debt and living expenses - that ...more
Alex Morfesis
Apr 24, 2009 Alex Morfesis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brook's readable book attempts to answer many of the longterm questions I've had over the last decade: why are the brightest and most motivated young people going into finance and law instead of science or whatever their true passion is? why does the "creative class" work for corporations instead of fulfilling their own creative passions and goals? and what's going on with the middle-class retreat into domesticity?
It's a shame this book was not written in 1997 instead of 2007. The Trap is a must
Apr 28, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly depressing, which is why it gets three stars instead of four. The Trap is the way of the world today, or at least America. People want to fight social injustices, but they can't afford to, so they take jobs at corporations which perpetuate the social injustices in order to make money and have time on the side to fight the social injustices that they help perpetuate. That's if they can get a job at all.

The future seems bleak, especially since this book is already a half-decade old and
Patrick Gabridge
Mar 10, 2008 Patrick Gabridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though there's a certain amount of elitist whining in this book (an attitude of entitlement for the ability attend Ivy League colleges of your choice without going backrupt), he's an entertaining writer. Even more, he digs pointedly into the general uneasy sense that life has become a lot more expensive than people are admitting, and that this rise in expense is cutting down on the number of people willing to pursue careers like teaching and theatre that don't offer a payoff, and in fact are lik ...more
Jun 21, 2008 Alisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Progressives, and everyone else.
Ok, 5 stars might be a tad generous, but I really saw myself in this book and all of my friends who want to do right in the world but are already wondering how they are going to afford it. Daniel Brook offers an indictment of the inegalitarian American tax system that is hard to ignore--the concentration of wealth at the top is almost unparalleled, and our options for education, health care and housing are limited without deciding to go for the top-paying corporate jobs. The statistics he offers ...more
May 20, 2008 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why America is not so equal anymore? Why is the middle class disappearing and why a college education is not a sure way to be able to do what you aspire to be in life, nor to be independent financially?
This book is really a discussion opener on the social and political levels. America is not what the founders set out build, the land of opportunity is now mostly reserved to the elite class. America is building a class system when other developped countries are successfully tearing theirs down. Wh
Jul 30, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent summation of where myself and all my friends find ourselves, economically and culturally. Basically, the gist of this book is like, "See - all these shitty corporate jobs? It didn't used to be this way for people our age and it doesn't have to be this way." An inspiring read.
Kirk Kittell
Recommended by Seth Godin in Linchpin .
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